October 17, 2016 § Leave a comment
I’ve always dreamed of telling people that I have a green thumb. That I have the capability of creating a stunning garden that is fit for a full-page spread in Better Homes and Gardens magazine one day.
The truth is I haven’t REALLY had much experience taking care of plants. Growing up, I would occasionally help my parents water the tiny flowerbed in the backyard of our Miami home. There was an abundance of sunshine and water, and the vegetation grew as if someone placed an Engorgement Charm on it. As an adult, I like having green plants around the house, but usually opting for durable houseplants, like aloe or philodendron heartleaf, that don’t die easily from negligent care. To be fair, my small Taipei apartment hardly gets any natural light. Even my mother, who is a self-claimed gardening guru, has difficultly keeping plants alive in the apartment. Since moving in, I’ve kept away from plants and gardening, wistfully thinking that I’ll get another shot of it in a not-too-distant-future, when I find a new apartment that has more space and sunlight.
I stumbled across a tiny succulent nursery near Dahu park (大湖公園) during a family outing back in April. My inner-hipster immediately fell in love with the succulents and all the wondrous colors and variety that they come in. The small ones cost about NT. 50-100 (USD $1.50 – $3), a fair price. I decided to get 4 – two for my mom, and one each for myself and my boyfriend.
Succulents are considered low-maintenance. Idiot proof even. The instructions I received were to water them once a week and make sure they receive a lot of sunlight. Easy right?
June 28, 2015 § 1 Comment
There’s no nice way to put it. I’m having a pretty shitty few days. This GIF is for the for my shitty feelings that I’ve been dealing with:
This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for over two months. It could have joined the graveyard of unfinished posts but I am determined to resurrect it from the dead. GIFs hold a special place in my heart mostly because they are such excellent forms of expressing and convey emotions. This also gives me a chance to share some of my favorite GIFs in existence.
February 20, 2015 § 1 Comment
Kicking off the new year’s goal of exploring more of Taiwan, Matthew and I have decided to take a weekend trip to the famed Jiufen (九份), the inspiration behind Miyazaki’s ‘Spirited Away’ and Houtong (侯硐), an old coal mining village that became a haven for stray cats. It was a relief to leave Taipei and get some fresh air. The train ride was an hour away and only costed NT.50 (about USD $2), which makes me question myself why I don’t go out into the outside world more.
Jiufen was an old gold mining town that prospered back during the Japanese occupation in the early 20th century. The town is tucked into the mountains and enjoys a stunning view of the Pacific ocean. The small area meant that the buildings are densely built, narrow roads and alleys that winds around the mountainous town.
I highly recommend exploring Jiufen at night. Mostly because you can avoid the throngs of tourists that visit during the daytime but also because the night scenes were significantly more interesting.
The quietness of the town at night was slightly eerie and surreal. Besides the random passerby or two, we didn’t come across anyone during our nighttime exploration. It felt like a ghost town, especially with the dilapidated structures and the endless rows of graves. The nighttime sounds that you grow accustomed to hearing in the city, scooters, neighbor arguments, tv sets, were nonexistent. Instead, you heard the ocean breeze and the occasional crickets chirping.
After walking through numerous dark alleys and narrow staircases, we stumbled across this brightly lit tea house:
It was just like a scene out of Spirited Away. The dark town backdrop just highlighted the bright building even more, absolutely stunning to look at.
January 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
Whether you’re a believer of creating New Year’s resolutions or scoff at those that do, it’s hard not to feel the sense of a fresh beginning as we usher in a new calendar year. Whether it’s the blogs recycling their ’10 ways to stick to your new year’s resolution’ article or your local gym pushing out discount memberships for those that are finally ready to shed some weight, the hopeful, infectious verbiage is scattered everywhere.
This year, I’ve decided to share my goals with everyone on this blog. One big part is because I want to start writing more (this new year’s cliché is killing me as I type it) and the other reason is to introduce a new and rather ambitious project that my sister and I are working on.
1. Read 12 books by the end of the year – My reading goal last year was 20 and I smugly thought that would be an easy goal to accomplish because “I’m super nerdy and I LOVE reading <3”. I finished 2014 with a disappointing 6 new books read. This year, I’m lowering my reading challenge to a (seemingly) more manageable 12 books. Feel free to recommend new reads in the comments or over at Goodreads.
2. No technology (phone or laptop) 20 mins prior to sleeping – Smartphone addiction is a real thing and it’s scary. Everyone is compulsively checking their phones, even if there’s nothing to check. Real life is beginning to resemble scenes from Her already. I’d like to curb my overage daily usage, shutting down just before hitting the sack and using that time to read seems like two birds one stone.
3. Blog once a month – Not even going to bother explaining this one.
4. Go somewhere new in Taiwan every quarter – Taiwan is a stunning island and there are still so many places I want to visit while I’m still here. There are tons of great places I’d like to visit abroad in 2015, but the grass is pretty green on this side of the fence and it needs to be frolicked on.
April 13, 2014 § 1 Comment
If you ever considered biking on the streets of Taipei, you may be bombarded with scary riding stories from locals. Most of Taipei do not have marked bicycle lanes or signals. The easy, relaxed atmosphere that bikers enjoy in Amsterdam or Copenhagen is basically nonexistent. The streets of Taipei resemble something of a battlefield, with its army of scooters, manic taxi drivers and monster buses at every turn. It’s a feat that can be daunting for bikers who aren’t comfortable riding in chaotic conditions.
The Riverside Park is the answer to that. Bike lovers can enjoy a beautiful bike lanes while seeing a different side of Taipei. Though never mentioned in popular guidebooks, hunting out bite-size adventures at the Riverside Park is by far one of my favorite pastimes. Riverside Park (河濱公園) is a city-established parkway that wraps itself around the whole Taipei city, running along the Danshui and Keelong River. It’s a quick way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city without leaving the city, with extensive bike paths that can take you from southern Taipei (Xindian) all the way to the northernmost part of the city (Danshui). In addition to wide bike lanes, you will also stumble upon an assortment of parks and recreational facilities such as tennis courts, basketball courts, dog parks and more. It’s a refreshingly new way to see Taipei, as it exposes you to different facets of daily life. There are many different parks, entrances and bike rental stations scattered around the city, so it is worth checking out the full map to know which parts of the riverside you want to be exploring.
One of my favorite spots is the dog park @迎風河濱公園 where you can shamelessly pet other people’s dogs without being a creep about it.
There are also designated graffiti walls for people to tag around the park. The walls are painted white periodically, so it’s a good place to get your spray practice on.
Bikes can be rented at stations around the river for around NT. 60/hour. You have to provide a government issued ID or a NT. 2000 deposit if you don’t have an ID. Many people prefer renting UBikes (map), Taipei’s bike sharing service. The first 30 mins is free and then NT.10 per 30 mins for up to 4 hours. There are different rates for 4 hours or more, so be wary of long bike rides. You’ll need an Easycard and a functioning Taiwan phone number for the 1-time registration.
And of course the delicious food trucks and coffee stands that are available everywhere!
Have you ever biked around Taipei? Feel free to leave your stories in the comments!